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Report finds no conflict of interest, despite obvious conflicts of interest

Lisa Hymas | Grist - February 27th 2014

Read the full article on the originating site

Environmental Resources Management, the consulting firm hired by the State Department to review the potential environmental effects of the Keystone XL pipeline, did all sorts of dodgy and deceptive stuff, but none of it amounted to serious rule breaking — at least according to the State Department’s inspector general.

The Office of Inspector General today published a report that found ERM did not violate the State Department’s conflict-of-interest rules as it bid for the Keystone contract and wrote its study. Climate activists and environmentalists had requested the investigation by the inspector general, and now they’re none too pleased with the results.

Last month, the State Department released the environmental impact study written by ERM. It found that Keystone would not have significant climate impacts, even though sections of the study actually contradict that top-level finding. Grist’s Ben Adler recently highlighted the top three flaws with the study.

Bloomberg has compiled a handy list of questionable behavior by ERM, but apparently none of that bothered the inspector general.

Here’s what Jason Kowalski of activist group 350.org had to say about today’s report: “Far from exonerating the State Department of wrongdoing, the Inspector General report simply concludes that such dirty dealings are business as usual.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) argued that the inspector general’s report was too narrow. It focused, he said, on “whether the State Department followed its own flawed process for selecting a third-party contractor. The fact that the answer is ‘yes’ doesn’t address any outstanding concerns about the integrity of ERM’s work, the State Department’s in-house ability to evaluate its quality or whether the process itself needs to be reformed.”

Read the entire article here.

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